Jun 17, 2010

Power of distractions

The past six months have been keeping me a lot busy, thanks to a new job. There is also a feeling of restlessness and I feel distracted most of the times. I was not sure if the restlessness is leading to distraction or vice-versa. Last weekend, I sat for 4 hours straight and finished reading a book "Keep off the grass" by Karan Bajaj (review to follow soon). It felt so much better to focus on a single task at hand for a stretch with no distractions whatsoever. But such un-distracted times have become a rare and precious entity these days. While pursuing PGSEM, such focused activities were common - 90 minutes of focused attention on interesting lectures, reading a 18 page HBR case study at a stretch for 2 hours or working on a presentation deck with project partners, discussing on skype.

I realized the reason I was feeling restless was that I was getting distracted, almost all the time these days. Constant interruptions over phone (both landline and mobile), multiple context switches, my increased interest towards twitter updates, emails for which people expect responses almost the next minute and so on. Being a GTD follower, I capture almost all the thoughts and commitments that come to my mind into my trusted system. That helps me to reduce any chances of missing commitments that I need to work on. But this practice of collecting and processing these thoughts alone doesn't seem to suffice. Information and new work keeps flowing into my collection box all the time. Is it that I have started to juggle multiple focus areas? No way, since I definitely had much more commitments and projects six months ago and I always consider myself to be a better multi-tasker.

"Distractions" has become the one enemy that I need to attack in order to feel much more productive in my day-to-day activities. Although it cannot be defeated in a day, I have started to take a few simple steps to defeat this enemy:

- No Internet access for one day during the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday).
- Facebook access once a day (it has got boring these days, with Farmville updates taking much of the space)
- Orkut access once in three days (seems none of my friends in orkut are active these days, moved to Facebook perhaps!)
- Personal mails (Yahoo! / Gmail) access once a day
- Hiding the dock on my Mac so I don't get to see new mail updates while I'm focusing at work
- Mute my TV when advertisements start to show up while watching a movie or a TV show (Used to constantly change the channels with remote)
- Tracking twitter updates a few times a day (not check as and when new tweets keep coming) - Need to reduce from a few times to once a day
- When new web links are shared by friends or colleagues through email, chat or tweets, I used to check them almost immediately or have them open in my browser. So at the end of the day, I would have around 10-15 browser tabs open, with a few of them read, some more half read and the rest not read yet. Now I have started to bookmark them and add a tag "Read & Review". I later come back to such links and view a few of them at a time.

Any other suggestions?

PS: I typed this post, with no distractions whatsoever :-)

Jun 6, 2010

Drive to North Wayanad

2010 seems to be zooming past at a speed which I'm trying to comprehend. With 5 months already gone in a jiffy, I wonder how the time had flown by. Being a person who loves to travel, it didn't take me too long to figure out that I haven't traveled anywhere for leisure in these 5 months. So hubby and I decided to drive down to Wayanad in the last weekend of May. Although we had visited Wayanad in 2007 (Vythiri to be specific), we didn't go around anywhere, thanks to the monsoons.

After a quick browsing through the review sites, we finalized our stay with Thirunelli Agraharam cottages. The owner of the cottages, Mr.Sebastian had sent us a detailed route from Bangalore which was very helpful. Getting up early on a Saturday morning could have only been made possible, if we are traveling somewhere. It was a smooth drive on Mysore Road and we stopped for breakfast at Kamat (where else!!). After Srirangapatna, the route got exciting as we had to find our way to Hunsur. The sun was at its scorching peak but the trees on both sides of the road provided some respite. Once we spotted the banner indicating Rajiv Gandhi National Park, we were very excited, hoping we could see some animals inside the sanctuary. There are a few restrictions while driving through the park - 30 km/hr speed limit, no honking, no music and no parking. Though we followed these restrictions which helped us to admire nature's pristine  beauty, there were others who seemed to be in a hurry and speeding past the road. We spotted deers, monkeys and a couple of elephants. By the time we crossed the park and entered Kerala border, it was past 1 PM. The border town of Kutta didn't have any good places to eat. So we called up the hotel manager and asked him if lunch would be available in the resort.

This was definitely one of the best typical Kerala lunches we've ever had. After a long drive and a sumptuous lunch, we took a nice siesta. When we planned our trip, we were expecting Wayanad to have a cool and pleasant weather. It was as hot as Bangalore.

The manager gave us a few pamphlets indicating the places to visit. Though we would have loved to drive down to all the places, time was definitely a constraint (the weather as well).  We went to Thirunelli temple (just a km away from the resort) and Kuruva islands. If only the weather wasn't that hot and sultry, we could have enjoyed the walk inside Kuruva islands. We felt very exhausted after the long walk in the sun. We were planning to go to Banasurasagar dam but we missed the route and ended up coming towards Kutta. After having a late lunch in a small local eatery, we headed back to the resort.

With crispy onion pakodas and hot tea, we spent the rest of the evening, playing carroms and reading a novel.After breakfast and a long chat with Mr.Sebastian on Monday, we headed back to Bangalore. The monsoon clouds were just looming dark on top of the Brahmagiri mountains when we bid goodbye to Wayanad.


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